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2010 French Tariffs Raise Price for Solar, Geothermal and Biomass

France has introduced new feed-in tariffs for 2010. These include substantially higher geothermal, biomass, and building integrated solar PV tariffs than in 2009.

Media reports of the new solar PV tariffs have overshadowed the significantly higher tariffs for geothermal-electricity generation, and for biomass. Sex sells, and solar PV remains "sexier" than humdrum geothermal power plants and downright old school biomass plants.

Tariffs for wind energy have remained unchanged since 2006 except for increases due to inflation.

In an odd twist, English-language media is widely reporting a "24% cut" in French solar PV tariffs while French sources are warning that some of the tariffs have been raised too high.

For the most part the tariffs announced by Minister of Energy and the Environment, Jean-Louis Borloo, reflect those published in late 2009. See Conservative French Government Again Proposes Higher Solar PV Tariffs.

Biomass Tariff Doubled

Borloo has more than doubled tariffs for biomass from €0.064/kWh to €0.125/kWh [$0.18 USD/kWh]. He also raised the efficiency bonus to €0.05/kWh [$0.07 USD/kWh].

Geothermal Tariff Raised Nearly 70%

The geothermal tariff in continental France was raised nearly 70% from €0.12/kWh to €0.20/kWh [$0.29 USD/kWh]. The geothermal tariff for French overseas territories, several of which have significant geothermal potential, was raised 30% from €0.10/kWh to €0.13/kWh ($0.19 USD/kWh).

BI Solar PV Tariff Highest in World

Borloo is claiming that France has instituted the highest solar PV tariff in the world. The tariff for building-integrated (BI) solar PV installed on occupied dwellings and buildings housing health care is €0.58/kWh [$0.84 USD/kWh]. For all other buildings, the BIPV tariff is €0.50 [$0.72 USD/kWh].

The ministry made other changes in PV tariffs as summarized below.

    * BIPV (dwellings and health care): €0.58/kWh [$0.84 USD/kWh]
    * BIPV (other buildings): €0.50 [$0.72 USD/kWh]
    * Simplified BIPV: €0.42 [$0.61 USD/kWh]
    * Ground-mounted PV <250 kW: €0.314 [$0.45 USD/kWh]
    * Ground-mounted PV >250 kW
          o In the Sunny south: €0.314 [$0.45 USD/kWh]
          o In the cloudy north: €0.377 [$0.58 USD/kWh]
    * Inflation Indexing Reduced to 20%
    * No degression until 2013 

English-language media has focused on the tariff for "simplified building-integrated PV" that was decreased from €0.55/kWh to €0.42/kWh, a 24% reduction. However, "simplified BIPV" in France was never the type of rooftop PV seen in Germany or anywhere else in the world. In a uniquely French approach, the PV must be integrated into the roof of the building not just mounted on top.

In contrast to English-language media's reporting, French solar advocates have warned the government that the tariffs for ground-mounted and BIPV are too high. They warn of a potential "solar bubble" like in neighboring Spain in 2008 and instead have called for more "sustainable tariffs" and for a program more aimed at residential and commercial buildings than the current program.

Both Hespul and CLER (Comité de Liaison Energie Renouvelables) have charged that the current program, while creating a risk of a speculative solar bubble, focuses too narrowly on a niche market for new buildings. Hespul and CLER emphasize that the potential of solar in France atop existing buildings is vast.

The two advocacy groups argue that a "good" tariff is one that permits generators to earn a profit from their investments and enable increasing electricity generation in a "sustainable" manner. Hespul and CLER charge that France's BI tariffs are not sustainable and will account for a large portion of the costs of the French feed-in tariff program in the years ahead.

Hespul warns that the BI tariffs are so attractive that they will lead to the construction of building shells that will house nothing but support a BIPV roof to take advantage of the high tariffs. Such abuses have been seen in southern Italy.

For updated tariffs worldwide, see Tables of Feed-In Tariffs Worldwide.

Photovoltaïque : Publication du nouvel arrêté tarifaire

Photovoltaïque: l'arrêté sur les conditions d'achat de l'électricité

Hespul & CLER--La " bombe photovoltaïque " : un alibi bancal pour une politique boiteuse

Hespul--Revision des Tarifs d'Achat Photovoltaiques : analyse et propositions de l'association Hespul

Note: This analysis is based on my limited knowledge of French.--Paul Gipe

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